Fueled by the love of her son, Krystal Gurganus started a support group in Spartanburg to help the families of children with Down syndrome.
Gurganus and Kristy West started Bringing Up Down Syndrome of Spartanburg, known as B.U.D.S., to provide support and resources to those families. Gurganus was inspired by her 10-year-old son, Landon, who was born with the disorder.
“Spartanburg did not have a Down syndrome-exclusive organization to help support families,” she said. “We kind of just came together and decided we were going to do this, we were going to go full-on and start this group.”
Tuesday is World Down Syndrome Day, designed to raise awareness about the condition and support for organizations working with families affected by it.
Gurganus said people are encouraged to wear brightly colored or mismatched socks, or even a third sock rolled to a different length to represent the extra chromosome those with Down syndrome have.
Down syndrome occurs when a child has a full or partial copy of chromosome 21, according to the National Down Syndrome Society. The extra genetic material alters the course of childhood development.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about one in every 700 babies born in the United States has Down syndrome, making it the most common chromosomal condition in the country.
B.U.D.S. works with about 30 families, hosting monthly events for parents and children.
“Sometimes our knowledge is more than a doctor could tell you,” Gurganus said. “That’s what we’re there for, that first-hand experience.”
Landon is a student at Jesse Boyd Elementary School. Accompanied by his favorite companions, Buzz Lightyear and Woody from “Toy Story,” Landon likes to eat, play and be with his friends.
Two years ago, Landon and Avery West, Kristy’s daughter, won a national contest to be featured on a large video screen in Time Square.